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How Do You Define Sustainability?

By: Seth Lennon
Sep 5

Since May, WRAP has run a podcast (yes, this is an absolutely shameless plug), where we interview vital figures and thought leaders throughout the apparel/textile production sphere. On the same day that I am writing this blog entry, I am beginning the prep phase for one of our next episodes. (no hints, can’t ruin the suspense!) 

 

As I held a prep call with this particular interview subject, we went over the questions to be asked, and one item stood out. A question that has been asked of several of our guests:

 

How Do You Define Sustainability?

 

The answers have varied from person to person, obviously- however, there is one person who has not been asked this very question. 

 

Seth Lennon.

 

So…as I have thrown down the gauntlet to myself...what is my answer to this question? 

 

It comes down to this; one of the biggest lessons I have picked up over the years is that it is essential to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I don’t know if I am going to be able to accomplish a feat in my life that could earn me a Nobel Peace Prize, but small things can go a long way.

 

My answer to the sustainability question, in this case, is surprisingly simple- Do what I can in terms of my buying habits and behaviors that contribute, even in the most minute fashion, to making things better.

 

So how do we get there?

 

In terms of social sustainability; its time for the price to no longer be the dominant factor in my buying decisions. There are several visibility tools at the consumer’s disposal to understand the path a t-shirt or a pair of jeans took from a factory floor to my closet. I have made a point to use these resources and equip myself with the information necessary to make an informed buying decision based on my evolving standards. And yes, I know I have likely made this point in a previous blog, but it does merit repeating. This is 2019. The information is at our disposal. It is on us if we don’t use it.

 

When it comes to environmental sustainability, much of the same tones do exist- but often, this internal dialogue is halted with another question:

 

Do I Need This?

 

I won’t lie. I am an outlier for a 35-year old man, I don’t mind shopping. Considering the arena I am in, my appearance does indeed matter. The clothes we don on any given day are meant to project a specific image to others around us. However, a counterbalance to this conversation is this for every pair of pink/seafoam/yellow pair of work pants I buy (and yes, I own all three colors) - what is the impact on the environment when these goods are produced? Luckily, I have confidence that the brand(s) I choose for these items are leading the way in environmental sustainability, but there is ALWAYS going to be an impact. Everything mankind does while going about their day on this planet has an effect, whether we like it or not. Is that impact worth that next pair of pastel-colored professional attire? That is the question you must ask yourself when you are staring at a website or a display at the mall.

 

Now. Of course, my answer is not your answer. And how else could I end this blog entry than with one more question:

 

How Do You Define Sustainability?

 

 

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